Senedd roundup: Hopes that Covid-19 infection rates are levelling off
A further 23 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of deaths to 774, health officials said on Saturday.
Public Health Wales also confirmed that 22 previously reported deaths which did not have a positive test result have been removed from the overall total.
A further 299 people had tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 8,900.
Dr Chris Williams, from Public Health Wales, said: “Based on the new case numbers there is emerging evidence suggesting a levelling-off in the number of new cases of Covid-19 in Wales, which may be an indication of the effectiveness of lockdown measures.
However, it is still too early to tell for sure, and it is too soon to end the current social distancing rules.
Public Health Wales continues to fully support the extension of lockdown measures, which is essential to avoid reversing the gains we have made in slowing the spread of this virus, protecting our NHS and saving lives.”
Welsh Government hit out at lack of support for Holyhead to Dublin ferry route
The Welsh Government has criticised the decision not to include the Holyhead to Dublin route in the UK Government’s £17m support package for ferry services on the Irish Sea announced on Friday.
The money has been made available for the next two months to maintain “critical routes” between ports in England and Scotland and Northern Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Northern Ireland Executive will cover 40% of the costs of the package.
In a strongly worded statement Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters said: “Across the UK ferry operations and the ports which facilitate them have been badly hit by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and Holyhead is no exception.
The ferry route between Holyhead and Dublin is a vital link, transporting critical goods, such as food and oxygen supply for the NHS, for the UK mainland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. As the second busiest roll on roll off ferry port in the UK it plays an essential role in the economy of North Wales and further afield.
Given its importance, particularly at this time, it is absurd to wait until a route is no longer commercially viable before taking action.
It is unacceptable, inexplicable and irresponsible that the Port of Holyhead has not been included in the UK Government’s announcement.”
Mr Walters has written to the UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps asking him to reconsider the decision.
Calls for more help for hospices
The Welsh Conservatives are pressing for an increase in funding for hospices after the Welsh Government announced an extra £6.3 million of support last week.
The money was made available following the UK Chancellor’s decision to allocate £750 million for frontline charities affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The three-month package of additional support is needed after restrictions imposed during the outbreak have led to a drastic drop in income as fundraising events are cancelled, charity shops closed and campaigns paused.
Hospice services in Wales rely on charitable fundraising for around two thirds of their income.
Mark Isherwood AM, who chairs the Cross Party Group on Hospices and Palliative Care, pointed out that government funding for hospices as a percentage of expenditure is already lower in Wales than other UK nations adding “this has not changed for a decade and has been dropping in real terms.”
He said “HM Government announced £200 million of new money for hospices in England during the second quarter of 2020 and it is understood that the final allocation to the Welsh Government in consequence will be significantly more than £6.3 million.
“However, hospices across Wales have expressed concern that this additional money will not be used by the Welsh Government to support and sustain essential hospice services in Wales.”
“This is unacceptable and as a matter of urgency the Welsh Government must speedily bring hospices out of the dark by publicly pledging that every single penny it receives in consequence of the £200 million for hospices in England reaches our hospices here in Wales.”
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